ALUMNI artists, many of them couples, mounted visual interpretations of love in the art exhibit, “NIIG: An Exhibition of Intimate Conversations,” which opened Feb. 16 at the Sigwata Art Gallery in Santa Cruz, Manila.

“NIIG” is a Filipino word that connotes a strong, intimate and idiosyncratic conversation between lovers, a fitting title for a collaborative love-themed exhibit.

Joum Valera and Mara Herrera mounted a mixed-media work on canvas of their family, which consisted of the couple and their only child, titled “Allow and Be,” an image of the couple facing each other while splatters of green, black, blue and purple hues emphasized greatly in the middle symbolized their child.

“It [relationship] is a test of understanding and patience on both sides, but one of the things we agree on is being progressive and expansive in experimenting with styles and techniques,” Herrera told the Varsitarian.

Herrera, an alumnus of the College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD), sought to depict meditation and freedom.

“Allowing our hands to create with little or no design in mind and being in the moment of conception and creation… we always wanted to incorporate our spiritualistic sense which is the core [character] of our work,” she explained.

Husband-and-wife Mideo Cruz and Racquel de Loyola, a 2009 Thirteen Artist awardee and performance artist, presented an interactive installation titled “Intersect,” in which the audience were instructed to connect strings of yarn from one end to another in any direction.

“This is how the work really [engages] the interpretation, it’s meaning varies from one person to the next, open and unpredictable, just like how a relationship would fall into place,” Loyola pointed out.

The piece was abstract, and the unpredictability of the outcome was the goal of the couple, who wanted to compare the process of building up the piece to that of a relationship.

Cruz, who studied advertising at the University, said that the strings also symbolized an extension of their life from the city to their life in the province.

“The link is not limited, we are part of a bigger community,” he added.

In 2011, Cruz mounted a controversial installation titled “Poleteismo,” which displayed religious images incorporated with pop culture icons. It was negatively received by catholic groups who deemed it as “sacrilegious and blasphemous.”

Cruz believed that the purpose of his art was to invoke critical discourse and the controversy that circled around his piece merely “served as an extension of the work.”

The couple’s decision to live “off-grid” in the province was to “get away from the influence of the commercial mainstream,” and there they continue to shape art that incites more constructive and critical discourse.

Pamela Hopilos, along with artist Rem San Pedro, created a mixed-media work which used paint, thread, cloth and printed pictures titled “Magkatabi sa Kama.”
Hopilos, an accountancy graduate, said that the placement of the painting was inspired by a “meme” of the typical sharing space of a couple in bed, the woman’s side greater than the men.

The exhibit was inspired by the film “Frida”, where famed Mexican surrealists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera painted images of their 25 years of marriage, letting the people get a glimpse into their troubled yet passionate relationship.

NIIG was organized by Rezureccion Art Project, an artists-initiative cultural events outfit founded in 2008, in partnership with Sigwada Art Gallery.

“We got different artists and couples who practice different disciplines, and through their pieces they give the audience an idea of the chemistry that they have,” said co-organizer Recci Bacolor.

Other artists featured were Bryan Araneta and Mara Sabado, Jonathan Cena and Jean Sioson, BLIC and Yeng Cruz, Diana Aviado and Luigi Azura, and Myke Montañez and Cham Cristobal.

“NIIG: An exhibit of intimate conversations” ran from Feb. 9 to March 2.


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